Vice President Mike Pence has warned the ‘era of patience’ with Kim Jong-un is over as he insisted America’s commitment to South Korea is ‘iron-clad’.
Pence, speaking in the perilous Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, reiterated that ‘all options are on the table’ to deal with the threat posed by Pyongyang.
After travelling to the region with his family, Pence said President Donald Trump is hopeful that China will now use its ‘extraordinary levers’ to pressure the North to abandon its nuclear and ballistic program.
This morning he warned Kim Jong-un not to ‘test the resolve’ of the President Trump and insisted any use of nuclear weapons by the secretive state would be met with ‘an overwhelming and effective response’. The visit came shortly after a failed North Korean missile launch that some claim may have been ‘thwarted by cyber attacks from the US.’
President Trump has ordered a naval strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, to the region, though the vessels remain a long way from the peninsula.
But this morning, Japanese media claimed both China and Russia had dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the ‘armada’ amid mounting concern over the US deployment. The claims were made by multiple sources of the Japanese government, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Russia today warned Washington against launching a unilateral strike on North Korea claiming the US was on a ‘risky path’.
Vice President Mike Pence arrives at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War
Pence is visiting a military base near the DMZ a day after the North conducted a failed missile launch
Pence arrived at Camp Bonifas on Monday morning for a briefing with military leaders and to meet with American troops stationed there
Pence is seen above walking with Commander General Vincent K. Brooks upon his arrival at Camp Bonifas near the DMZ Monday morning local time in Korea
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: ‘We do not accept the reckless nuclear missile actions of Pyongyang that breach UN resolutions, but that does not mean that you can break international law. I hope that there will not be any unilateral actions like the one we saw recently in Syria.’
Last night, the US refused to rule out a pre-emptive strike on North Korea as Trump’s national security adviser warned the situation was ‘coming to a head’.
After the rogue state ran a missile test that failed, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said ‘all our options are on the table’ to try to ‘avoid the worst’.
Frantic talks were taking place with allies including China to ‘develop a range of options’ in an attempt to quell tensions and calm fears of thermo-nuclear war.
But, with a strike group of US forces already posted to the Korean Peninsula, the US President added further fuel to the fire, saying he had been forced to beef up his military. On Twitter, Mr Trump wrote: ‘Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly, we have no choice.’
Mr Trump and General McMaster said they hoped China would convince its neighbour, which depends on Beijing to prop up its trades and finances, to stop the crisis escalating.
US Vice President Mike Pence has warned the ‘era of patience’ with Kim Jong-un (pictured, right on Saturday) is over as he insisted America’s commitment to South Korea is ‘iron-clad’
Tensions between North Korea and the US were already on a knife-edge over the posting of the strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the region – a move that was denounced by North Korea
Donald Trump said China was ‘working with us’ on the issue – the first confirmation the two nations were collaborating
US deploys hi-tech anti-ballistic missiles in South Korea
South Korean defences will be strengthened with the early deployment of the THAAD missile defence system, Pence has confirmed.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system is designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight.
Plans to send the rockets to South Korea were unveiled last month, sparking fury in Pyongyang.
China is also opposed to the deployment, claiming the system’s powerful radar can penetrate its territory and undermine its security.
THAAD is designed to intercept and destroy short and medium-range ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight (file picture)
Pence and acting South Korea president Hwang Kyo-ahn said today they were troubled by ‘China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself.’
Seoul, which accuses China or discriminating against some South Korean companies working in China, and the US say the sole purpose of THAAD is to guard against North Korean missiles.
THAAD, which has six truck-mounted launchers that can fire up to 48 interceptor missiles per battery, is set up to take out incoming targets at relatively high altitudes midflight.
A THAAD battery also includes fire control and communication equipment, as well as radar for detecting target projectiles and initiating the interception process.
U.S. defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which manufactures THAAD, says on its website that the system has had ‘100 percent mission success’ in flight testing since 2005.
On Saturday dictator Kim Jong-un’s regime displayed its military muscle in a huge parade, before yesterday’s missile test which exploded within seconds.
The medium-range missile – fired from a base in the Sinpo area – ended in farce because it ‘blew up almost immediately’, sources said. The US Pacific Command said it believed it to be a ballistic missile, which is initially powered and guided, but then uses gravity to fall to its target.
Of its failure, former British conservative foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC on Sunday: ‘It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the US – through cyber methods – has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail.’
The United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea’s latest failed ballistic missile test, Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday, citing what he called an international consensus to act.
But Pence and South Korean acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn said they were troubled by retaliatory moves by China against the deployment of in South Korea of a U.S. anti-missile system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).
‘The United States is troubled by China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself,’ Pence said.
South Korea, which accuses China or discriminating against some South Korean companies working in China, and the United States say the sole purpose of THAAD is to guard against North Korean missiles. China says its powerful radar can penetrate its territory and undermine its security and spoke out against it again on Monday.
Pence, on his visit to the region, said there had been a ‘period of patience’ over the years over North Korea but ‘the era of strategic patience is over.’
He said the Trump administration hoped their clarity will be received in North Korea, adding the U.S. and its allies will achieve its objectives through ‘peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary’ to protect South Korea and stabilize the region.
Pence is warning in a visit to the DMZ dividing North and South Korea that the North Korean people and military ‘should not mistake the resolve of the United States of America to stand with our allies.’
Pence told reporters near the DMZ that the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. is ‘ironclad’ and reiterated that ‘all options are on the table’ to pressure North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons and missile program.
Pence visited a military base near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders and to meet with American troops stationed there.
His 10-day tour of Asia comes as tensions grow in the wake of North Korea’s latest missile test.
The joint U.S.-South Korean military camp is just outside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ. Pence’s visit, full of Cold War symbolism, comes amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula.
Pence, who had flown into South Korea yesterday, accused North Korea of ‘provocation’.
Panmunjom is the village where the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War was signed by the United Nations, North Korea, and the People’s Republic of China
Pence is seen above looking toward the north from an observation post inside the DMZ separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea
Despite occasional fluctuations in geopolitical tensions, the DMZ has largely remained quiet since the war
Pence says the ‘era of strategic patience is over’ with North Korea, expressing impatience with the willingness of the North Korean regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles
Pence is seen above shaking hands with an American soldier during a meeting with US and South Korean troops at Camp Bonifas near Pannmunjom
Pence said the US was going to rebuild its military, ‘restore the arsenal of democracy’ and give troops the resources they needed to accomplish their mission
The visit carries a great deal of symbolism for Pence personally. His late father, Edward, served in the Army during the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star on April 15, 1953
Pence stands next to his daughter, Audrey, as she peers out over the DMZ through a pair of binoculars inside an observation post
The DMZ is one of the most heavily fortified regions in the world. It is a swath of territory that lies roughly along the 38th parallel.
Measuring 150 miles long, it became the de facto border that separates North and South Korea following the end of the Korean War in 1953.
Despite occasional fluctuations in geopolitical tensions, the DMZ has largely remained quiet since the war.
Pence said the US was going to rebuild its military, ‘restore the arsenal of democracy’ and give troops the resources they needed to accomplish their mission.
Evoking former president George W Bush’s speeches on the eve of the Afghan and Iraq wars, Mr Pence said ‘freedom will ever prevail’.
Measuring 150 miles long, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) became the de facto border that separates North and South Korea following the end of the Korean War in 1953
Two North Korean soldiers look at the south side as a South Korean soldier, center, stands guard while Pence visited the border village of Panmunjom
A North Korean soldier takes photographs during Pence’s visit to the DMZ while another soldier from the Communist country looks on
The visit carries a great deal of symbolism for Pence personally. His late father, Edward, served in the Army during the Korean War and was awarded the Bronze Star on April 15, 1953.
Pence displays his father’s Bronze Star and a photograph of his father receiving the honor in his office.
Pence said it was ‘humbling for me to be here.’
‘My father served in the Korean War in the U.S. Army. On the way here, we saw some of the terrain my father fought in,’ he said.
‘We’re grateful every day. It’s a great honor to be here.’
After the rogue state ran a missile test that failed, Lieutenant General HR McMaster (left with Mr Trump) said ‘all our options are on the table’ to try to ‘avoid the worst’
The US refused to rule out a pre-emptive strike on North Korea last night as Donald Trump’s national security adviser warned the situation was ‘coming to a head’
The medium-range missile – fired from a base in the Sinpo area – ended in farce because it ‘blew up almost immediately’, sources said.
The US Pacific Command said it believed it to be a ballistic missile, which is initially powered and guided, but then uses gravity to fall to its target.
Experts said it was not an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which would be able to reach targets around the world.
Kim’s ultimate aim is to be able to put a nuclear warhead on an ICBM.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson posted on Twitter: ‘I strongly condemn the latest North Korean missile launch. They must stop these belligerent acts and comply with UN resolutions.’
General McMaster said the latest missile launch ‘fits a pattern of provocative and destabilising and threatening behaviour on the part of the North Korean regime’.
In Afghan capital Kabul, he told ABC’s This Week show: ‘All our options are on the table, undergoing refinement and further development’. He said: ‘The President has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons.
‘And so we’re working together with our allies and partners, and with the Chinese leadership, to develop a range of options.’
He said the National Security Council was collaborating with the Pentagon, the State Department, and intelligence agencies to provide Mr Trump with options.
The General said it was the consensus of the US, along with allies in the region, that ‘this problem is coming to a head’. He added: ‘And so it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully. In the coming weeks, months, I think there’s a great opportunity for all of us… to take action short of armed conflict so we can avoid the worst.’
Beijing, Pyongyang’s biggest ally, has come under pressure from Washington to exert more influence on its neighbour.
Mr Trump said China was ‘working with us’ on the issue – the first confirmation the two nations were collaborating.
Tensions between North Korea and the US were already on a knife-edge over the posting of the strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the region – a move that was denounced by North Korea.
Pyongyang then rolled out its deadly arsenal on Saturday.
Ballistic missiles and canisters capable of housing intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike the US mainland were among those items on display.
But North Korea did not carry out its sixth nuclear bomb test, as previously feared. A White House official said that, had it been a nuclear test, ‘other actions would have been taken by the US’.
Pence told US troops: ‘This morning’s provocation is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day in the defence of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defence of America in this part of the world.’
Thousands of US and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry had been deployed last month in their biggest-ever jont military exercises. That led North Korea to issue routine threats of attacks on its rivals if they showed signs of aggression.